Stray golf balls damage property, anger residents

When a golf ball from Dyker Beach Golf Course flew through theback window of Brian Leonard’s truck parked on Seventh Avenuebetween 90th and 92nd Streets, the Dyker Heights resident wasangered and immediately began seeking reimbursement.

But Leonard — who is taking the Dyker Beach Golf Course tosmall claims court on September 8 — said this costly accident isnot the worst that can happen if protective fencing is not placednear the areas of the ninth and 14th holes at the course.

It’s one thing if a golf ball goes through the back window of atruck, but if it hits a moving car or a person, the potential fordamage is much higher, Leonard said.

The American Golf Corporation, which leases the Dyker Beach GolfCourse from New York City’s Department of Parks & Recreation,does not cover the damage caused by errant balls, stating thatindividual golfers are responsible for these reimbursements – apolicy that Leonard considers unfair.

If the golfer is 200 to 500 yards away, he won’t know he causedany damage, he said.

But the problem doesn’t end there, according to JosephineBeckmann, the district manager of Community Board 10, who hasworked to address Leonard’s complaint.

If your car window was broken say between two and four – theywon’t give you a list of golfers who were there at the time,Beckmann explained.

Beckmann dealt with a case similar to Leonard’s in 2007, whenshe contacted the Parks Department, requesting that they interveneand insist that American Golf installs protective fencing in thearea. She also expressed her concerns about the organization’sreimbursement policy. Beckmann sent out a similar letter regardingLeonard’s incident on June 27, and as of yet, she said she had notreceived a response.

We are not aware of a history of complaints in this area, saida Parks Department spokesperson. We are looking into the situationwith the concessionaire, and will determine if additional measuresneed to be taken at the location.

Leonard pointed out that, in contrast to the areas near theninth and 14th holes, the new Junior Golf Center has very highnetting that helps block balls from flying out of the course. Thedifference between normal fencing and a protective barrier iseasily visible, he said.

Jack LaTorre, a Bay Ridge resident and the president of the BayRidge Historical Society, experienced an almost identical incidentto Leonard’s in October, 2006. After LaTorre had driven an elderlyneighbor to the hospital, he returned to his car to find the backwindow busted and a golf ball in the back seat.

When LaTorre spoke with representatives at the golf course, hewas shocked by their unsympathetic response.

They were the rudest bunch of people I’ve ever dealt with,LaTorre said. They told me they had no responsibility for it. Theytold me ‘tough luck.’ They couldn’t have been more rude anddisrespectful.

Leonard noticed that the American Golf Corp. scorecard urgesgolfers to take caution in the unprotected area: Note that thefence along the left side of #9 and the right side of #14 is NOTprotective fencing, the card reads. But LaTorre believes that theprivate company has not done enough – and should take the concernsof residents living nearby the course into consideration.

It’s city park land – I don’t know how these people got thecontract for it, LaTorre said. They should be responsible for anydamages that their patrons cause.

As of press time, the American Golf Corp. had not returned callsrequesting comment.

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